Cervical Cancer Treatment Options

Treatment of cervical cancer depends on the extent of the cancer, the size and shape of the tumor, the age and general health of the woman, and her desire to have children in the future.

Most cervical cancers are treated by either surgery, radiation, or a combination of both therapies.

Surgery for Cervical Cancer

The most common surgical procedure for early cervical cancer is radical hysterectomy – the removal of the uterus, tissues surrounding the cervix and the lymph nodes. Some women will require radiation with or without chemotherapy following a radical hysterectomy. The decision to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) is individualized.

Since cervical cancer is often diagnosed in young women, surgical advances have been made allowing these women to preserve fertility at an important time – their reproductive years. One of these surgical advances is a radical trachelectomy, when the cervix and surrounding tissues are removed, but the uterus remains, allowing a woman to carry a pregnancy. This is an option for some early-stage cervical cancer.

Many patients with early cervical cancer are candidates for minimally invasive surgery, either through standard laparoscopy or robotically. Hoag’s Gynecologic Robotic Surgery Program offers a team of experienced physicians who are specialty-trained in using the da Vinci robot for hysterectomy – the most advanced minimally invasive approach to hysterectomy available today.

There are substantial benefits to the patient for choosing minimally invasive robotic surgery, including:

  • Less post-operative pain and scarring
  • Decreased blood loss and lower risk of blood transfusion
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Faster return to normal activities

For women with advanced-stage cervical cancer, treatment combining radiation therapy and chemotherapy remains the standard of care.

Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer

Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to stop cancer cells from growing or kill them entirely.

If radiation is necessary, it is generally used following surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy used to treat endometrial cancer:

External radiation therapy: Uses a machine that directs the radiation towards an exact area of the body.

Internal radiation therapy (or brachytherapy): In this situation, only the lining of the vagina is treated with radiation.

Radiation Therapy for Cervical Cancer

Hoag Family Cancer Institute offers a state-of-the-art facility for radiation therapy, equipped with the latest in radiation technology, handled by an expert team of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, medical dosimetrists, radiation oncology nurses and radiation therapists. Hoag’s Radiation Oncology department is the highest volume provider in Orange County, treating over 100 patients per day.

Learn more about Hoag Radiation Oncology.

Chemotherapy for Cervical Cancer

Chemotherapy for endometrial cancer involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is usually given intravenously, through the veins, and treatment may be administered either at the doctor’s office or in an outpatient center.

Chemotherapy can be an effective treatment for endometrial cancer that has spread outside the uterus because it travels through the bloodstream, reaching all parts of the body. However, the same drugs that kill cancer cells can also damage healthy cells. Chemotherapy is generally given in cycles, with periods of treatment alternating with periods of rest.